US Navy fires cruise missiles at Houthi rebel radar sites

The U.S. military struck three radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen's Red Sea coast in retaliation for two missile attacks against a U.S. Navy ship, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook announced Wednesday evening. 

"Initial assessments show the sites were destroyed," Cook said. 

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A U.S. official said the USS Nitze, a destroyer, launched more than three Tomahawk cruise missiles at three coastal radar sites in Yemen along the Red Sea coast, north of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. 

The radar sites, in territory controlled by the Iran-backed Shiite rebels, were located in remote areas where "there was little risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage," the official said. 

The locations were near Ras Isa, north of Hudayda; north of Mukha; and near Khoka, the official said. 

The targeted radar sites were involved in the two recent missile launches this week against the USS Mason and accompanying vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. 

The Mason, accompanied by the USS Ponce, was targeted by missiles fired from Houthi-controlled territory on Sunday. 

It was again targeted on Wednesday, while accompanied by the USS San Antonio, by missiles fired from Houthi-controlled territory. 

A U.S. official said the Mason fired defensive missiles, including two Standard Missile-2s, a RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile and a Nulka missile decoy, in the first case, and that similar measures were employed in the second. 

The radar sites were also active during an attack on an Emirati ship on Oct. 1. 

The official said destroying these radar sites will degrade their ability to track and target ships in the future.  

"These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea, including last week's attack on the [United Arab Emirates]-flagged vessel 'Swift-2,' and during attempted attacks on USS Mason and other ships as recently as today," the official said. 

"Thorough analysis and careful planning was conducted so that the strikes could be executed with precision."

The Pentagon earlier Wednesday promised a response but said it would do so at a time of its choosing. 

Cook said the strikes were authorized by President Obama and were taken at the recommendation of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford. 

"These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway," Cook said. 

"The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world."

— Updated at 8:48 a.m.